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1 This page is intentionally blank in the pdf version available online. With this blank page, you will be able to print the document on both sides and it will match the printed version available from TRACS.

2 Accreditation Manual January 2012 Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Mailing Address Forest Road Forest, VA USA Physical Address for Private Deliveries Forest Road Forest, Virginia Phone (434) Fax (434) Web Address Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) as a national accrediting agency for Christian postsecondary institutions that offer certificates, diplomas, associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees, including distance learning.

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4 Table of Contents INTRODUCTION... 1 Purpose... 1 Aims... 2 The Role and Value of Accreditation... 2 Scope... 4 AFFILIATION AND MEMBERSHIP... 5 APPLICANT STATUS... 6 Steps in Approval as an Applicant... 6 Institutional Eligibility Requirements (IERs)... 6 Annual Requirements of Active Applicant Institutions... 8 Withdrawal of Application... 9 CANDIDATE STATUS Steps to Achieve Candidate Status Accreditation Commission Action Communication of the Accreditation Commission Decision Denial of Candidate Status Right to Appeal the Accreditation Commission Decision Reference to Candidate Status in Institutional Publications Status Report for Candidate Institutions ACCREDITED STATUS Steps To Achieve Accredited Status Accreditation Commission Action Communication of the Accreditation Commission Decision Denial of Accredited Status Right to Appeal the Accreditation Commission Decision Reference to Accredited Status in Institutional Publications Status Report for Accredited Institutions REAFFIRMATION OF ACCREDITED STATUS Periodic Review Accreditation Commission Action Communication of the Accreditation Commission Decision Denial of Reaffirmation of Accredited Status Right to Appeal the Accreditation Commission Decision iii

5 REVOCATION OF STATUS ANNUAL REPORTING THE SELF-STUDY ORGANIZATION ACCREDITATION STANDARDS INTRODUCTION DEFINITIONS I. FOUNDATIONAL STANDARDS A. Biblical Foundations B. Purpose and Objectives C. Philosophy of Education D. Ethical Values and Standards II. OPERATIONAL STANDARDS A. Infrastructure: The Organizational Structure The Governing Board The Administration The Support Staff B. Publications and Policies Publications Policies C. Educational Program Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Distance Education Branch Campuses Teaching Sites Non-Degree Granting Programs D. Faculty E. Student Services Student Life Student Services Intercollegiate Sports F. Financial Operations Basic Areas Budget Financial Aid Programs Notification Related to Eligibility for Title IV Participation Title IV Compliance Institutional Default Rate iv

6 G. Institutional Advancement Financial Development Marketing and Public Relations Alumni Relations Investment Management Student Recruitment H. Institutional Effectiveness Research and Planning Evaluation and Outcomes Assessment I. Library and Learning Resources J. Facilities and Equipment K. Health and Security v

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8 INTRODUCTION The Accreditation Manual is designed to convey all standards and evaluative criteria that have been established by the Accreditation Commission to guide institutions through candidate and accredited status. The manual is intended for institutions requesting initial candidacy status and accredited status as well as for institutions seeking reaffirmation of accredited status. Questions regarding the accreditation process (policies, procedures, standards, or evaluative criteria) should be directed to TRACS office. The accreditation standards may be modified by the Accreditation Commission, but only after opportunities for comment on any proposed changes have been provided to all parties and institutions significantly affected. Purpose The principal purpose of TRACS is to provide an accreditation program for postsecondary institutions, e.g., Christian liberal arts, colleges/universities, graduate schools/seminaries, Bible colleges/institutes, that offer a certificate, diploma, or degree (Associate, Baccalaureate, or graduate) at both accredited and pre-accredited (candidacy) level to ensure their academic quality, financial stability, and student support services, which will allow the institution and their students the benefits of participating in federally-funded programs. The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) is a voluntary, nonprofit, self-governing organization of Christian postsecondary institutions. TRACS is recognized as a national institutional accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and is a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). TRACS was established by a group of educators in 1979, the purpose of which was to promote the welfare, interests, and development of quality Christian postsecondary institutions whose mission is characterized by a distinctively Christian orientation. While TRACS encourages each affiliated institution to develop its own distinctive, TRACS expects institutions to provide quality postsecondary education within the context of Christian values, with emphasis on high academic standards, integrity, practical application, and spiritual development. The governing boards of these institutions have voluntarily applied to TRACS and have been approved by the Accreditation Commission after having met the established requirements for affiliation at either accredited or candidacy level as described below. The required criteria includes both FOUNDATIONAL STANDARDS assuring the institution's constituents and the public of its biblical, purpose and objectives, philosophical, ethical and moral values, and OPERATIONAL STANDARDS providing assurance of educational and financial integrity. The Accreditation Commission is solely responsible to carry out all accreditation activities and has final authority regarding all accreditation actions. It formulates and implements all policies, procedures, standards, and evaluative criteria used in the accreditation process. The Accreditation Commission consists of nine to eighteen (9-18) commissioners, including three (3) but not more than one-third public representatives. 1

9 Aims To foster excellence and quality in Christian postsecondary education through the development of policies, procedures, and standards for assessing educational effectiveness leading to enhanced educational quality. To ensure the consistent application of accreditation standards. To develop an accreditation process that requires continuous institutional selfstudy and assessment. To serve as an accrediting agency that recognizes institutions demonstrating quality through compliance with the standards at a candidate or accredited level. To provide counsel and assistance to both established and developing institutions. To provide accredited and pre-accredited (candidate) institutions the opportunity to participate in federal programs authorized under Title IV and other government programs. To assure the educational community, the general public, and other agencies or organizations that an institution evaluated by TRACS 1) has clearly defined and appropriate educational objectives and outcomes, 2) has established conditions under which educational outcomes are being achieved at an acceptable level with reference to TRACS standards, and 3) is so organized, staffed and supported that it can be expected to continue to offer quality education in the foreseeable future. To establish and encourage cooperative relationships among its institutions that promote common interests both nationally and internationally. The Role and Value of Accreditation Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution that meets or exceeds the Standards and evaluative Criteria and the policies and procedures established by the Accreditation Commission and validated by the membership for educational quality. In the United States, accreditation is voluntarily sought by institutions and is conferred by independent, autonomous bodies. Voluntary, non-governmental, institutional accreditation, as practiced by TRACS and other recognized accrediting agencies, is uniquely characteristic of American education. In other countries, the development, maintenance, control, and supervision of educational standards is a governmental function. Principal concerns of accreditation are the improvement of educational quality and the assurance to the public that affiliated institutions meet established standards. While no institution in the United States is required to seek accreditation, the benefits leading to both selfimprovement and self-enhancement provide strong motivation for most institutions to do so. Other recognized advantages include reciprocity in the transfer of credit from one accredited institution to another. In addition, a contributing factor in accreditation for many institutions is the fact that governmental and other agencies rely on accredited or candidate status in a recognized accrediting agency as a qualification for financial support and grants to students. For purposes of determining eligibility for federal government assistance under certain legislation, the United States Department of Education (USDE) is required to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that it determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of training offered by educational institutions after initial recognition. Criteria for recognition and guidelines have been established by the U.S. Secretary of Education to be used 2

10 in recognition of accrediting agencies. The Accrediting Agency Evaluation Branch (AAEB) staff of the Office of Postsecondary Education reviews the policies and performance of nationally recognized accrediting agencies approximately every four years to determine whether they should be included on the Secretary's list. The accreditation process of all recognized accrediting agencies follows a common pattern. Standards and evaluative Criteria, as well as procedures to be followed in the accreditation process, are developed by those involved in the work of an accrediting agency and used in evaluating an institution to determine its educational effectiveness in fulfilling its stated mission. The established standards and evaluative criteria are designed to guide institutions through all stages of affiliation (accredited or candidacy) from initial application through reaffirmation as a result of an institutional self-study program. The process requires a self-study by the institution, followed by an on-site visit by a peer evaluation team, and a subsequent review and decision by the Accreditation Commission. The basic purpose of the accrediting agencies, including TRACS, is to attest to the fact that an institution is achieving its stated goals and objectives and is meeting the Standards. One of the goals of the process is to foster on-going assessment and planning at the institution. What happens on a continuous basis after the Accreditation Commission has finished its immediate work is as important as the aspects of accountability and short-range improvement. Compliance with the requirements is expected to be continuous and is validated periodically, normally as part of every comprehensive evaluation following institutional self-study. While accreditation indicates an acceptable level of overall quality, even the best institution is capable of improvement, which must come from its own clear identification and understanding of its strengths and weaknesses The advice and counsel provided by an on-site peer evaluation team comprised of experienced educators drawn primarily from other accredited institutions encourages improvement. Finally, publications and staff visits by the accrediting agency enhance improvement. TRACS has established a review schedule for standards, evaluative criteria, policies, and procedures under the guidance of a Standards Review Committee. After such review, appropriate changes are made in the light of ensuing recommendations, but only after opportunity for comments on any proposed change has been provided to all parties significantly affected. Recommendations for improvements in the standards, policies, and procedures are encouraged and welcomed by the Accreditation Commission. As stated above, two fundamental purposes of the accreditation process are (1) to assure the quality of an institution and (2) to assist in the improvement of an institution. Accreditation by an accrediting agency indicates that the institution: has appropriate purposes. has in the organization all human and physical resources needed to accomplish its purposes. can demonstrate that it is accomplishing its purposes. gives reason to believe it will continue to accomplish its purposes. Recognition by a recognized accrediting agency assures the educational community, the general public, and other organizations and agencies that an institution has a clearly defined educational purpose appropriate to higher education and consistent with the accrediting agency's standards, has established conditions under which achievement of these objectives 3

11 can reasonably be expected, appears in fact to be accomplishing them substantially, and is so organized, staffed and financed that it can be expected to continue to provide a quality program. The accrediting process fosters both integrity and excellence in affiliated educational institutions that use the standards for assessing educational effectiveness. The requirement that the accredited institution conduct periodic self-evaluations results in its identifying what it does well, in determining the areas in which improvement is needed, and in developing plans for improvement. Periodic evaluation by qualified professionals who serve on evaluation teams assures the institution's self-study is realistic. The process confirms honesty and integrity in institutional relations with students and other consumers, thus supplementing state agency protection for the educational consumer. An institution has the obligation to offer its students a sound education leading to a recognized certificate or degree. Scope Institutional Categories. TRACS serves Christian postsecondary institutions (e.g., liberal arts colleges/universities, graduate schools/seminaries, Bible colleges/institutes) that offer either a certificate, diploma or degree (associate, bachelor, or graduate). TRACS accredits the total institution. Institutions are classified according to the degrees offered. The following is the official classification for TRACS institutions: Category I institutions offering Certificates, Diplomas, Associate degrees; Category II institutions offering Bachelor s degrees; Category III institutions offering Master s degrees; Category IV institutions offering Specialist s degrees and Doctorate degrees. Institutions will be listed by the category approved by the Accreditation Commission. Institutions that are initially awarded candidate status by the Accreditation Commission at specific categories (I, II, III, IV) may only move to another category by filing for a substantive change. The move (substantive change) must be approved by the Accreditation Commission at its next scheduled meeting. Geographical Territory. The geographic territory of TRACS currently consists of the United States and its territories, plus other locations as determined by the Accreditation Commission. 4

12 AFFILIATION AND MEMBERSHIP Applicant institutions are affiliated with, but not members of, TRACS. An applicant is an institution whose application has been approved by the application review committee, hosted a successful staff visit, and responded to the staff report recommendations. Candidate and accredited institutions are members of TRACS. A candidate institution is one that demonstrates basic compliance with most Standards and Criteria at their particular stages of development, and their development is on a level and at a pace that would indicate a strong probability of achieving accredited status within the five-year time frame. A candidate institution that is able to demonstrate that the Standards and Criteria are substantially met may apply for accredited status. The Benchmarks may serve as an indicator of the performance level for each of the Standards. An accredited institution is one which has established substantial compliance with the Standards and Criteria, satisfactorily responded to all previous team recommendations, completed a self-study, has hosted an on-site evaluation team visit, has completed all steps for accredited status detailed in this manual, has appeared before the Accreditation Commission, and has been granted accredited status by vote of the Accrediting Commission. 5

13 APPLICANT STATUS An applicant is an institution whose application has been approved by the application review committee, hosted a successful staff visit, and responds to the staff report recommendations. Submitting an application does not guarantee that the institution will achieve an active applicant relationship and be permitted to move toward candidacy. The maximum time period as an approved applicant is five years. An institution that does not achieve candidate status within this period will be deleted from the list of approved applicants and must wait a minimum of one year before reapplying. No extensions will be allowed beyond the five-year maximum timeframe as an approved applicant. Steps in Approval as an Applicant 1. The institution requests application materials from TRACS office or downloads them from TRACS web page (www.tracs.org), 2. The institution completes the Institutional Profile (with all enclosures) plus the Institutional Eligibility Requirements (IER) checklist and sends all materials to TRACS office along with the required processing fee. 3. The Review Committee completes an initial review of the Institutional Profile and all support materials including the IERs and a staff visit is scheduled. A written evaluation is sent to the institution: a. Approving the institution as an applicant. 1) The institution is notified of approval as an applicant. 2) Following the staff visit, a report is submitted to the institution containing recommendations of the staff visit. 3) The institution responds to the staff report recommendations in writing. 4) All materials including the Institutional Profile, staff report, and the institutional response are submitted to the committee for review at its next scheduled meeting. 5) TRACS President informs the institution of the committee's decision either to: a) Proceed toward submitting a Self-Study Proposal. b) Delay Self-Study Proposal submission/furnish reasons b. Deferring the institution as applicant with recommendations. c. Rejecting the institution as applicant with rationale. Institutional Eligibility Requirements (IERs) The Institutional Eligibility Requirements (IERs) are the Standards with which an in institution must be in compliance to begin a self-study and be considered by the Accreditation Commission in order to be a candidate for accreditation. Basic compliance with the Accreditation Standards means that an institution is in compliance with all of the Standards identified in the IERs and has the ability to be in compliance with all of the Standards within the period of candidacy for accreditation. The Accreditation Commission considers basic compliance as the threshold for considering whether to recognize an institution as a candidate for accreditation and that recognition is not automatic. 6

14 The Institutional Eligibility Requirements (IERs) are the Standards with which an in institution must be in compliance to be considered for candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Commission. The initial determination of compliance with the IERs is made by TRACS President. Following the President s determination that an institution is in compliance with the IERs, the institution must prepare a Self-Study addressing all Standards which will be followed by a team visit. The team will determine the institution s compliance with all standards. If the Accreditation Commission determines that the institution is in compliance with the IERs and the institution can come into compliance with all of the Standards within the period of candidacy, the institution can be granted candidacy for accreditation. Applicant: an institution which has demonstrated to TRACS President that it is in compliance with the IERs. Candidate: an institution which the Accreditation Commission has determined is in compliance with the IERs; has a reasonable belief that the institution can come into compliance with all Standards within the period of candidacy; and has a reasonable belief that the institution has or can secure the resources to fulfill its plan to come into compliance. Accredited: an institution which the Accreditation Commission has determined is in substantial compliance with all Standards. The Standards on which the IERs are based are presented in parentheses following the IER summary headings. NOTE: The referenced Standard numbers will be changed to reflect any changes in the numbering of the Standards which is contemporaneously approved with these changes. IER 1 FOUNDATIONAL STATEMENTS. The institution has a. A biblical foundation statement (1.1). b. A mission statement (2.1). c. Measurable institutional objectives which are consistent with the institution s mission (2.2). d. A Christian Philosophy of Education (3.1). IER 2 LEGAL AUTHORITY TO OPERATE The institution has a. A legally established and functioning board with at least 5 voting members (5.1.a.). b. Legal authority to operate from the government of the state or country in which it is located, including all teaching sites and branch campuses (5.1.b., 5.1.d., , and ). c. A set of board-approved By-laws within which the board operates (5.6). IER 3 ADMINISTRATION AND STAFF The institution has a. A full-time Chief Executive Officer who is appointed by the Board (5.11). b. The Chief Executive Officer has the authority to carry out the published board policies and procedures (6.1). c. A full-time Chief Academic Officer with the appropriate graduate degree(s) from an accredited institution. (6.3.a. and 6.3.c.) d. Other administrative or leadership team members and staff sufficient in number and competence to give direction to the major operational areas of the institution (6.4). e. Complete job descriptions for all administrators and staff (6.2.a. and 6.4.a.) 7

15 f. An organizational chart that clearly depicts lines of administrative responsibility (6.1.e.) IER 4 PUBLICATIONS AND POLICIES The institution has a. A Board Manual (8.7). b. A Policies Manual (8.8). c. A Catalog (or catalogs, if appropriate) (8.9). d. A Faculty Handbook (8.10). e. A Student Handbook (8.11). IER 5 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS The institution has a. A minimum of one post-secondary educational program which meets national norms and supports the mission and institutional objectives (10.1, 10.4, 11.1, and 11.4). b. Learning outcomes for each academic program (2.5 and 24.2). c. Appropriate general education requirements for each undergraduate degree (10.14). d. An adequate number of students enrolled in each program (10.9 and 11.10). IER 6 FACULTY The institution has a. At least one full-time, contracted, academically and spiritually qualified faculty for each major/program offered, including general education for undergraduate programs (14.1 and 15.1). b. A sufficient number of qualified faculty to provide the instruction needed for the programs offered (14.2, 14.3, and 15.1.b.). IER 7 FINANCES The institution has a. Certified external audits which demonstrate adequate finances to support the institutional purpose and programs (18.4). b. Evidence that finances will continue to support the programs (18.9). IER 8 INSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS The institution has a. A comprehensive, board-approved strategic plan which is in use (23.1). IER 9 LEARNING RESOURCES The institution a. Adequately supports the educational programs offered (25.1) b. Employs an adequate number of professionally qualified library staff (25.4). IER 10 FACILITIES The institution s a. Facilities must be adequate for all learning activities (28.4). Annual Requirements of Active Applicant Institutions An active applicant institution must submit two reports by October 31 each year (Annual Operational Report and Financial Report) along with a certified external audit. If required, a status report addressing the progress of the institution in addressing the concerns of the Staff must be submitted by September 15. The Staff may take one of the following actions: 1. Accept the report and recommend continuing applicant status. 2. Request additional information. 8

16 3. Notify the institution that sufficient progress has not been made, and require the next annual report to address the corrective actions taken and future plans to achieve compliance with the IER s and completion of the Self-Study within the time limit. 4. Notify the institution that sufficient progress in working towards compliance with the IER s and completion of the Self-Study has not been achieved and the institution will be deleted from the applicant listing. The institution may appeal the decision. Withdrawal of Application An institution may voluntarily withdraw its application at any time after an application has been submitted until the Accreditation Commission makes a decision on candidate status. 9

17 CANDIDATE STATUS Candidacy indicates that the institution is in basic compliance with the Standards and Criteria, has been evaluated by an on-site peer team, and in the professional judgment of the evaluation team and the Accreditation Commission, the institution provides quality instruction and student services. Candidacy offers institutions the opportunity to establish an initial, formal, and publicly recognized pre-accredited status with TRACS. An institution applying for candidacy must provide evidence of sound planning, have adequate resources to implement these plans, and appear to have the potential to attain its goals within a reasonable time. While candidacy indicates that an institution appears to have the potential to achieve accreditation and that it is progressing toward accreditation, this status does not guarantee the institution will become accredited. The maximum time period for candidacy is five years. An institution that does not achieve accreditation within the five-year period will be deleted from the list of candidates and must wait a minimum of one year before reapplying for candidate status. No extensions will be allowed beyond the five-year maximum timeframe for candidacy. Institutions claiming exempt status must attain non-exempt status within the five- (5) year candidacy period. An institution that has been deferred to candidacy status may reapply when it can demonstrate that it has substantially improved by correcting major deficiencies identified in the evaluation process and as set forth by the Accreditation Commission. Steps to Achieve Candidate Status Institutions that are able to demonstrate basic compliance with the Standards and Criteria may be considered for candidacy. The candidacy period enables an institution to organize its operations, establish sound policies, procedures and management information systems, improve quality and demonstrate compliance with TRACS standards and Criteria. 1. The president of the institution seeking candidacy must notify TRACS President of its intentions and provide verification of Board approval. 2. Upon approval of the Self-Study Proposal and Timeline, the institution (now an active applicant) is notified and may begin the self-study process for candidacy (pre-accredited). a. A tentative date is approved for the Evaluation Team Visit. b. An on-site evaluation team will be assembled in proximity to the scheduled visit. 3. The institution, after successfully completing the Self-Study Report, sends the following to TRACS office three months prior to the scheduled on-site visit. a. Two hard copies and an electronic copy of the Self-Study Report following Self-Study Guidelines, Preparations and Procedures, (available from TRACS office) demonstrating the extent to which the institution complies with the Standards and Criteria and one copy of the following supporting documents: 10

18 1) Letter/Certificate of state authority to grant diplomas or degrees 2) Current catalog 3) Current financial audit prepared by an independent, certified public accountant, including a management letter. An audit according to "General Accepted Accounting Principles" (GAAP) is required prior to scheduling an on-site visit. 4) Charter or articles of incorporation 5) Bylaws of governing board 6) Planning document including assessment plan. b. A letter from the chairman of the governing board or president requesting that the institution be considered for candidacy and acceptance of the self-study. c. The change of status fee, calculated according to the current Fee Structure Chart available from TRACS office. (Institutions requiring additional team visits consisting of two or more persons will be required to pay the change of status fee prior to each visit.) 4. The institution sends each team member a copy of the Self-Study Report with the documentation when the team roster is received from TRACS office. Prior to the team visit, the visiting team chair may visit the campus to review the institution's preparation for the team visit. 5. The evaluation team will visit the institution within three (3) months prior to the April or November Accreditation Commission meeting. (Team visits later than three months will not provide sufficient time for the Accreditation Commission to act on the evaluation at the Accreditation Commission meeting.) All costs of the visit will be borne by the institution, including travel, lodging, meals, in-town transportation, and team member honorarium. 6. Following the team visit exit interview, the chairman of the evaluation team files a draft copy of the Evaluation Team Report with the institution and with TRACS staff representative, who submits it to TRACS office. 7. TRACS office receives any modifications to the Evaluation Team Report from the team chair and team members. 8. A revised copy of the Evaluation Team Report, including corrections from the chair and team, is submitted to the institutional CEO, along with a letter requesting a written response to any errors of fact in the Evaluation Team Report. The institution's written response must be mailed to TRACS office with a copy to the team chair within ten (10) working days after receiving the Team Report. 9. At least two (2) months prior to the April or November Accreditation Commission Meeting, the institution must file a written Response to Recommendations and Suggestions in the Evaluation Team Report. 10. Upon receipt of the institution's Response to the Report, TRACS Office schedules the institution for review by the Accreditation Commission, notifies the institution that its application has been placed on the agenda, and requests that institutional representatives attend the meeting. 11

19 Accreditation Commission Action When the Evaluation Team Report, the team recommendation(s) and the formal institutional response have been received, these documents, along with the application materials are forwarded to the Accreditation Commission for action. The Commission, after review and discussion, may move: 1. To grant candidate status without conditions. 2. To grant candidate status with conditions. The Accreditation Commission will list specific reasons that led to this decision. 3. To defer a decision on candidate status to permit an institution to correct serious weaknesses and report to the Commission within a limited time, with the Commission specifying the nature, purpose and scope of the information to be submitted. The Accreditation Commission will list specific reasons that led to this decision. 4. To deny candidate status. The Chair will list specific reasons that led to this decision. The action by the Accreditation Commission will be noted on TRACS website. Communication of the Accreditation Commission Decision TRACS President will formally communicate in writing the decision of the Accreditation Commission. Any explanatory information deemed appropriate to the chief executive officer including the specific standards which led to the Accreditation Commission s decision within 30 days of the Accreditation Commission s decision will be listed in a letter to the U.S. Department of Education on TRACS web-site. Denial of Candidate Status An institution not admitted to candidate status may reapply when it has substantially improved those aspects of its operation identified in the Commission decision as major areas of concern, but ordinarily not sooner than one year. Right to Appeal the Accreditation Commission Decision In the event that the institution is denied candidacy, it may appeal the decision by following the steps described in the "Appeals Procedure" in the Policies and Procedures Manual that will be sent to the institution when the decision is forwarded. Reference to Candidate Status in Institutional Publications Institutions granted candidate status must follow the guidelines contained in the document "Principles of Good Practice in Institutional Advertising, Student Recruitment and Representation of Accredited Status" that is located in TRACS Policies and Procedures Manual under the heading Ethical Conduct Policy. The exact wording of an institution s affiliation with TRACS is to be as follows: 12

20 (Name of institution here) is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) [15935 Forest Road, Forest, VA 24551; Telephone: ; having been awarded (Type of status here Candidate, Accredited or Reaffirmed) status as a Category (indicate the number of your institution s degree granting category here (use I, II, III or IV see the description of the categories on page four of the Accreditation Manual that is on TRACS website) institution by TRACS Accreditation Commission on (insert the month, day and year of Commission action here); this status is effective for a period of (insert appropriate number of years here five for candidate and accredited and ten for those schools who have been reaffirmed) years. TRACS is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). Status Report for Candidate Institutions If a candidate institution has not come into compliance with all standards addressed in recommendations from a team or staff report or conditions set by the Commission, a status report is required. The status report must be detailed with respect to each recommendation or condition and must be properly documented. The status report must be submitted by either February 15 or August 15, as indicated in the Commission s Action Letter. After reviewing an institution s progress report, the Commission may take one of the following actions: 1. Accept the report and recommend continuing candidate status. 2. Request TRACS President to provide additional information. 3. Request TRACS President to notify the institution that sufficient progress has not been made, and require a report at the next Accreditation Commission meeting on the corrective action taken and future plans to achieve compliance with the Standards and Criteria within the time limit. 4. Require TRACS President to notify the institution that sufficient progress in working towards compliance with the Standards and Criteria has not been demonstrated and that the institution will be scheduled for review at the next Commission meeting and will be deleted from the candidate listing. The institution may appeal the decision following the established Appeals Policy and Procedure. 13

21 ACCREDITED STATUS Accreditation indicates that the institution is in substantive compliance with the Standards and Criteria, has been peer evaluated after completing a self study, and in the professional judgment of the on-site evaluation team and the Accreditation Commission, the institution provides quality instruction, student services, and is financially stable. Accreditation offers institutions the opportunity to continue an ongoing formal and publiclyrecognized professional relationship with TRACS as a member institution. Accredited institutions have achieved this level of recognition through continuous self study. They have provided evidence that they are accomplishing their mission and are providing quality educational programs. Institutions that have already achieved candidate or accredited status with an accrediting association recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and that apply for TRACS recognition will be evaluated on both the FOUNDATIONAL STANDARDS and OPERATIONAL STANDARDS. It is understood that the self-study data compiled for the nationally recognized accrediting agency can be used without unnecessary duplication of effort; however, the data must be presented using TRACS format. A staff and team visit are required to verify the contents of the documents submitted. Steps To Achieve Accredited Status Institutions that have been state evaluated and approved, can demonstrate substantive compliance with the Standards and Criteria and have addressed all previous team recommendations satisfactorily may be considered for Accredited status by the Accreditation Commission upon completion of a self-study and an on-site evaluation team visit. The sequential steps involved in the accreditation process are as follows: 1. TRACS office notifies the institution two (2) years in advance of its accreditation deadline. However, the institution is responsible for knowing when it is coming to the end of the fiveyear candidate limit. 2. The president of the institution notifies TRACS in writing of the institution s intention to move toward accredited status. TRACS office acknowledges by letter within two weeks the institution s request and provides change of status materials. 3. The completed materials are received and reviewed, the institution is notified and a staff visit may be required. 4. The institution must submit a Self-Study Proposal and Institutional Assessment Plan with Timeline, based on Self-Study Guidelines, Preparations and Procedures, to TRACS Office for approval prior to self-study initiation. Note: If a staff visit is required the self-study proposal may be delayed. THE INSTITUTION MUST SUBMIT A SELF-STUDY PROPOSAL PRIOR TO INITIATING A SELF STUDY. 5. Upon approval of the Self-Study Proposal, Institutional Assessment Plan and Timeline: 14

22 a. A tentative date is approved for the Evaluation Team Visit. b. The institution is notified and may begin the self-study process. c. An on-site Evaluation Team is assembled in proximity to the scheduled visit. 6. The institution, after successfully completing the Self-Study Report, sends the following to TRACS office at least three months prior to the scheduled on-site visit: a. Two hard copies and one electronic copy of the Self-Study Report following Self-Study Guidelines, Preparations and Procedures, (available from TRACS office) demonstrating the extent to which the institution is accomplishing its mission and complies with the Standards and Criteria and one copy of the following supporting documents: 1) Letter/Certificate of state authority to grant diplomas or degrees 2) Current catalog 3) Current financial audit prepared by an independent, certified public accountant, including a management letter. An audit according to "General Accepted Accounting Principles" (GAAP) is required prior to scheduling an on-site visit. 4) Charter or articles of incorporation 5) Bylaws of governing board 6) Planning document including assessment plan. b. A letter from the chairman of the governing board or president requesting the institution be considered for accreditation. c. A statement, signed by the chief executive officer, asserting that the Self-Study Report is accurate. d. The change of status fee, calculated according to the current Fee Structure Chart available from TRACS office. (Institutions requiring additional team visits consisting of two or more persons will be required to pay the application fee prior to each visit.) 7. The institution sends each team member a copy of the Self-Study Report with the documentation when the team roster is received from TRACS office. Prior to the team visit, the visiting team chair may visit the campus to review the institution's preparation for the team visit. 8. The evaluation team will visit the institution within (3) months prior to the April or November Accreditation Commission meeting. (Team visits later than three months will not provide sufficient time for the Accreditation Commission to act on the evaluation at the Accreditation Commission meeting.) All costs of the visit will be borne by the institution, including travel, lodging, meals, in-town transportation, and team member honorarium. 9. Following the team visit exit interview, the chairman of the evaluation team files a draft copy of the Evaluation Team Report with the institution and with TRACS staff representative, who submits it to TRACS office. 10. TRACS office receives any modifications to the Evaluation Team Report from the team chair and team members. 15

23 11. A revised copy of the Evaluation Team Report, including corrections from the chair and team, is submitted to the institutional CEO, along with a letter requesting a written response to any errors of fact in the Evaluation Team Report. The institution's written response must be mailed to TRACS office with a copy to the team chair within ten (10) working days after receiving the Team Report. 12. At least two (2) months prior to the April or November Accreditation Commission Meeting, the institution must file a written Response to Recommendations and Suggestions in the Evaluation Team Report. 13. Upon receipt of the institution's Response to the Report, TRACS Office schedules the institution for review by the Accreditation Commission, notifies the institution that its application has been placed on the agenda, and requests that institutional representatives attend the meeting. Accreditation Commission Action When the Evaluation Team Report, the team recommendation, and the formal institutional response have been received, these documents along with the application materials are forwarded to the Accreditation Commission for action. The Commission, after review and discussion, takes action: 1. To grant accredited status without conditions. 2. To grant accredited status with conditions. The Commission will list specific reasons that led to this decision. 3. To defer a decision on accredited status to permit an institution to correct serious weaknesses and report to the Commission within a limited time, with the Commission's specifying the nature, purpose and scope of the information to be submitted. The Commission will list specific reasons that led to this decision. 4. To deny accredited status. The Commission will list specific reasons that led to this decision. 5. Accreditation Commission action will be listed on TRACS Website. When a determination is made that the institution is not ready for that level of recognition, the Accreditation Commission, considering the recommendation of the evaluation team, may recommend that the institution reapply for accredited status including a written agreement to address the team's recommendations in a written report to be submitted at least forty-five (45) days before the next meeting of the Accreditation Commission. The Accreditation Commission may award accredited status provided that the recommendations cited by the evaluation team are addressed in a satisfactory manner. Communication of the Accreditation Commission Decision TRACS President will communicate the decision of the Accreditation Commission along with any explanatory information deemed appropriate to the chief executive officer and list the specific standards that led to the Accreditation Commission s decision within 30 days after the 16

24 Accreditation Commission s decision. The Accreditation Commission s decision will also be communicating to the Secretary of Education and listed on TRACS Website. Denial of Accredited Status An institution not awarded accredited status may reapply when it has substantially improved those aspects of its operation identified in the Commission decision as major areas of concern, but ordinarily not sooner than one year. TRACS President should be consulted before a reapplication process is begun. Right to Appeal the Accreditation Commission Decision In the event that the institution is denied accredited status, it may appeal the decision by following the procedure described in the "Appeals Procedure" in the Policies and Procedures Manual that will be sent to the institution when the decision is forwarded. Reference to Accredited Status in Institutional Publications Institutions granted accredited status must follow the guidelines contained in the document "Principles of Good Practice in Institutional Advertising, Student Recruitment and Representation of Accredited Status." This is located in TRACS Policies and Procedures Manual under the heading: Ethical Conduct Policy. The exact wording of an institution s affiliation with TRACS is to be as follows: (Name of institution here) is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) [15935 Forest Road, Forest, VA 24551; Telephone: ; having been awarded (Type of status here Candidate, Accredited or Reaffirmed) status as a Category (indicate the number of your institution s degree-granting category here (use I, II, III or IV see the description of the categories on page four of the Accreditation Manual that is on TRACS website) institution by TRACS Accreditation Commission on (insert the month, day and year of Commission action here); this status is effective for a period of (insert appropriate number of years here five for candidate and accredited and ten for those schools who have been reaffirmed) years. Status Report for Accredited Institutions If an accredited institution has not come into compliance with all standards addressed in recommendations from a team or staff report or conditions set by the Commission, a status report is required. The status report must be detailed with respect to each recommendation or condition and must be properly documented. The status report must be submitted by either February 15 or August 15, as indicated in the Commission s Action Letter. After reviewing an institution s progress report, the Commission may take one of the following actions: 1. Accept the report and recommend continuing accreditation status. 2. Request TRACS President to provide additional information. 3. Request TRACS President to notify the institution that sufficient progress has not been made, and require a report at the next Accreditation Commission meeting on the corrective 17

25 action taken and future plans to achieve compliance with the Standards and Criteria within the time limit. 4. Require TRACS President to notify the institution that sufficient progress in working towards compliance with the Standards and Criteria has not been demonstrated and that the institution will be scheduled for review at the next Commission meeting and will be deleted from the candidate listing. The institution may appeal the decision following the established Appeals Policy and Procedure. 18

26 REAFFIRMATION OF ACCREDITED STATUS Periodic Review Accreditation is viewed by the Accreditation Commission as a continuing status that, once conferred, is removed only for cause and then with careful observance of due process. A responsible accrediting program necessarily includes periodic review of accredited institutions both for their benefit and for the fulfillment of the Accreditation Commission's accountability to the academic community and to the public. During the five-year period following initial recognition, an accredited institution is expected to submit a self-study proposal, begin an institutional self-study process and submit a self-study report. This will be followed by an evaluation team visit, with accreditation action taken at the Fall meeting of the Accreditation Commission. The Periodic Review fee is calculated according to the current Fee Structure Chart available from TRACS office. Accreditation will then be granted for a ten-year period with a required Quality Compliance Review (QCR) and Report to be filed the fifth year within the ten-year period. The QCR Report is to be submitted along with the supporting documentation ninety (90) days prior to the April or November Accreditation Commission Meeting. No later than the November meeting of the fifth (5 th ) year, the institution will meet with the Accreditation Commission in its review. The Report should focus on data evidence from the outcomes assessment mechanism which demonstrates that the institution is accomplishing its stated mission. Every tenth year, a selfstudy process will be repeated. A comprehensive on-site peer evaluation team visit will be scheduled and the institution will meet with the Accreditation Commission in review of reaffirmation of accreditation. Accreditation Commission Action The actions the Accreditation Commission may take regarding Reaffirmation are noted below. All actions by the Commission are subject to appeal in accord with due process as specified in the policy entitled "Appeal Procedure Policy in the Policies and Procedures Manual. The Accreditation Commission, after review of the self-study report, the evaluation team report, and the evaluation team recommendation, will take the appropriate action listed below: 1. To reaffirm accredited status without conditions. 2. To reaffirm, with a request for a follow-up report to be submitted by a specified date and/or a staff visit to be completed by a certain date. 3. To defer for cause a decision to permit an institution time to correct serious weaknesses and report to the Commission within a limited time. 4. To require an institution to show cause, within a limited period, as to why its accreditation should not be removed. A show cause order requires an institution to present its case for continued accreditation by means of substantive report and another on-site evaluation. The Accreditation Commission will specify the nature, purpose and scope of the information to be submitted and of the visit to be made. The institution retains its accreditation during the period of a show cause or any ensuing appeal 19

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